Sciatica is a set of symptoms including pain that may be caused by general compression and/or irritation of one of the five spinal nerve roots that give rise to each sciatic nerve, or by compression or irritation of the left or right or both sciatic nerves.
Signs and Symptoms: The pain is often felt in the lower back, buttock, and/or various parts of the leg and foot. In addition to pain, which is sometimes severe, there may be numbness, muscular weakness, numbness and tingling, and difficulty moving or controlling the leg. Typically, the symptoms are only felt on one side of the body. Although sciatica is a relatively common form of low back pain and leg pain, the true meaning of the term is often misunderstood. Sciatica is a set of symptoms rather than a diagnosis for what is irritating the root of the nerve causing the pain. This point is important because treatment for sciatica or sciatica symptoms will often be different, depending upon the underlying cause of the symptoms.
Causes: Sciatica is generally caused by the compression of lumbar nerves L4 or L5 or sacral nerves S1, S2, or S3, or (far less commonly) by compression of the sciatic nerve itself. Other causes could be: spinal disk herniation, spinal stenosis, piriformis syndrome, trigger points, pregnancy, or lifestyle habits like crossing legs.
Diagnosis: Diagnostic tests can come in the form of a series of examinations by a physician. Patients will be asked to adopt numerous positions and actions, such as squatting, walking on toes, bending forward and backward, rotating the spine, sitting, lying on the back and raising one leg at a time. Increased pain will occur during some of these activities.
- Medications (NSAIDS)
- Chiropractic manipulation
- Physical therapy and stretching exercises
- Spinal decompression (traction)
- Ultrasound, massage, and electrical stimulation
- Weight loss to reduce pressure on the nerves
Sciatica can be incredibly painful and annoying so it is important to seek treatment as soon as you start to see symptoms. Contact our office today if you are ready to get relief from your sciatica symptoms. Our clinic offers a wide variety of treatment options to help you get relief as quickly as possible.
-Written by Jenn Lusk, LMT, CTA, PTT